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Marketing to Millennials: What’s Your Bank’s Strategy?

  • by Kedran Whitten
  • May 26, 2016

Engaging the millennial generation is a challenge and necessity for all businesses—especially those in the financial industry. Millennials are about to reach their peak earning years. Plus, they’re reaching some of life’s biggest moments, like home ownership and parenting.

So, to cement your bank’s place on the long-term road map for success, it’s time we start developing informed marketing strategies to target this large and maturing demographic. Though reaching this generation has been difficult, certain strategies are proving to be effective.

Facebook IQ Study on Millennials and Money

Facebook IQ—the research arm of the social-media powerhouse—recently released a study on millennials’ relationships with money and their financial behaviors. Using data collected from Facebook users, the study uncovered insight that creates an opportunity for the financial industry to better understand millennials and how to market to them.   

For example, of the more than 70 million working-age millennials (ages 23 – 34) on Facebook in the United States, 46 percent are affluent (household income greater than $75K/year.) Of those individuals, another 46 percent of them say being debt free is their idea of financial success.

But, there’s a gap—few millennials actually know where they’re headed financially. Only 37 percent have a financial plan, and only 33 percent are happy with the way they’re saving and investing. That’s where your bank comes in.

Strategies for Connecting with the Millennial Generation

Traditional banking practices simply aren’t going to cut it for the millennial generation. (But we knew that, didn’t we?) To make a lasting connection, your bank needs to embrace new engagement and outreach strategies. Here are some examples:  

  • Deliver Innovative Products

    The ABA Banking Journal advises banks to address millennials’ priorities—like paying down debt and saving for the future—by delivering products that help them rebuild finances and achieve short-term goals. Then, when they’re ready for an investment, they’ll turn to your bank.

  • Compete with Everyone

    Key findings from the Facebook IQ study show that your bank’s solutions should compete with those from outside the financial services industry. Think personalization, user experience, mobile banking apps and other tools they encounter from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Spotify. Millennials have high expectations for customer experience—and banks are not exempt.

  • Make Mobile Your Focus

    The study also explains that mobile should be a central focus of your app and website experiences. And because the Facebook study says 49 percent of millennial banking occurs on a smartphone, the mobile experience should blend seamlessly with your in-branch experience as part of your omnichannel strategy.

  • Go Straight to the Source

    Keep millennials at the forefront of your bank’s strategy by bringing them into the conversation. Some banks have even adopted a “millennial board” to gather feedback on the bank’s services and promotions from their perspective. With a regular source of insight, your bank is equipped to maintain an evolving marketing strategy.

  • Become a Resource 
  • AdvertisingAge explains that millennials seek guidance for big financial decisions and want easy access to that information. Become a resource for no-nonsense financial education through tools millennials regularly use like social media channels and online videos. From helping them understand a credit score to paying down student loans to buying a home, by offering helpful information they can access on their own terms, you start to build a brand identity that millennials know and trust.

Use Data to Inform Your Marketing Strategy

The moral of the story is this: use data to your advantage. Let business intelligence inform your marketing strategy so that your financial institution has an evolving strategy for meeting the needs of your new major customer base—millennials.

Because, with an informed strategy, your bank could not only carve out a place among a generation notoriously disenchanted with the bank branch—you could gain traction and even opportunity for growth.

  

Kedran Whitten is CSI’s chief marketing officer, a role in which she leads brand development, marketing strategy and public relations initiatives. Kedran has more than 24 years of marketing leadership experience, including revenue growth, customer satisfaction, brand awareness, product pricing and positioning. Connect with Kedran on Twitter: @KedranW